The day after I saw Baby Driver, a friend an I went out and saw Spider-Man Homecoming. Now, I haven’t seen the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man films in quite a while, but I think this could quite possibly be the Spider-Man movie I needed it to be. I loved it.
At a science exhibition, nerdy high school student Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, granting him incredible powers. When a burglar killed his Uncle Ben, Peter vowed to use those abilities to protect his fellow man, driven by his uncle’s words: With great power comes great responsibility…. but we all knew that, and fortunately Spider-Man Homecoming knew that we knew that, and didn’t bother wasting any time telling it to us again. We jump right in with Spider-Man shortly after Captain America 3: Civil War, now back in New York City and being monitored by Tony Stark’s driver/chief of staff, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is not as hands on as you would think he’d be with the young hero, who he’d given the upgraded costume we saw in Civil War he actually kind of ignores him. This could be because he has seen how dangerous the super-hero life can be first hand, most recently when his best friend Rhodey was seriously injured in Civil War. He encourages Peter to leave the big and dangerous missions to more experienced heroes, to be a “friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man”. But when street level thugs start using high-tech weaponry (possibly not of this earth) in his neighbourhood, and Iron Man doesn’t take his calls, Spider-Man has to take action for himself. Eventually though he gets in over his head and makes a error in judgment that could have killed a lot of innocent people, which forces Stark to take back the suit. Now limited to his original homemade suit and web-shooters, Spider-Man readies himself for a final showdown with the Vulture.
Can I say that it was “amazing”? This is Spider-Man in the MCU, and it was amazing. I loved it, so I’m just going to point out a lot of the things that made me love it:
• I loved that they chose to set Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in high-school which gave the film’s title a double meaning. It was the homecoming dance where Peter has his climactic encounter with the Vulture (Michael Keaton) and the character came “home” to Marvel Studios from Sony Pictures.
• I loved the cast of characters that they used in the film and that they somewhat re-imagined. There was no Gwen Stacy or Mary Jane Watson though Michelle (Zendaya) reveals at the end of the movie that her “friends call her MJ…. Now, let’s be clear, Michelle is NOT Mary Jane, but the character was great, funny, sarcastic, and smart; so she could be a great alternative to the comic book (and movie) MJ as Peter’s new love interest.
• It was very “John Hughes-like” in the way it treated the high school aspects of the film and the high school characters. Homecoming is really just a big coming-of-age tale (albeit one with superheroes and villains), and Hughes told those better than anyone.
• Tom Holland got Peter Parker completely right. He wasn’t a socially awkward skateboarder who twitched and couldn’t make eye contact, he was shy, and nervous, and he was a nerd (his bedroom was full of Star Wars toys and he and his best friend were planning on putting together the LEGO Death Star!). He was smart, but he was the underdog, and we loved him for it. This was an “everyman” Peter Parker I could relate to.
• We got a great new rendition of the Spider-Man costume, complete with resizable eyes and the web wings in the armpits! The eyes were great and gave all the expressiveness that is hard to relate when your character’s face is completely covered by a mask (just like Deadpool’s eyes/mask did in his movie). We also didn’t have to have the mask coming off all the time to show the character’s expressions.
• When they show the Marvel Studios logo at the opening of the film, we get an orchestral version of the Spider-Man cartoon theme song. That theme song did make an “appearance” in Spider-Man 2 when Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man for a time and a busker is playing the song in a subway station.
• Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) wasn’t a jock, he was on the quiz team, but was the smug rich kid and still a bully.
• Ned (Jacob Batalon) was a great “partner” for Spider-Man and a great friend for Peter. Now, I can’t remember if they said his name was Ned Leeds or not, but that would be very interesting if it was. Ned Leeds in the comics was one of several men who took the guise of the Hobgoblin, one of Spider-Man’s deadliest enemies. Ned Leeds also married Betty Brant who was J. Jonah Jameson’s secretary in the comics (and previous films). Brant was also in Homecoming as a student news presenter.
• The wit was back. It was nice to see a wisecracking, funny Spider-Man like he was pulled from the comic books.
• In the comics, or at least the old ones that I used to read, Spider-Man talked to himself a lot, or at least thought to himself a lot. He’d ask himself questions, get angry at himself, lament his terrible luck, and we were there for the ride, but that’s kind of hard to do in a movie. You can’t really see a character’s thoughts, and soliloquies haven’t really been that popular since the days of Shakespeare, so fortunately we had Karen, the Spider suit’s AI (voiced by Jennifer Connelly) for Spidey to talk to.
• Peter struggles to balance his double life, and we see once again how important that is to him.
• Michael Keaton was great as Adrian Toomes, the Vulture was an excellent choice for the film, and they way they power him up makes sense. Of course it’s great that Keaton was also just in Birdman where he played an actor who had previously played a superhero on screen….and that he also actually used to play another superhero on screen….(he was Batman!)
• We also got two versions of the Shocker (Logan Marshall-Green then Bokeem Woodbine) and the Tinkerer (Michael Chernus) in the film, plus a pre Scorpion Mac Gargan (Michael Mando), hints at the Prowler (Donald Glover), and possibly Miles Morales…
• Other great nods to the comics were there too, but the most obvious and my favourite was when Peter was trapped under the rubble of the building while fighting the Vulture and though on the verge of giving up, after crying out for help, how when he sees his mask half in the water and the reflection of his own face in the water, (giving the classic half and half Spider-Man shot) he summons up the strength of character and the physical strength to free himself to continue on, just like the scene in Amazing Spider-Man #33. Panel 1 Panel 2 Panel 3 .
• Stan Lee of course has a cameo, and it was pretty good.
• I loved the Captain America cameos too, as we see Cap via videotape passing on PSAs to the students of Midtown High in gym class and in detention.
• There were two after the credits scenes, the first one is serious and involves some villains coming part way through the credits, and the other is for humour only, and comes at the very end of the film. I’m glad I had the patience to stick around for that one!
A great story all around, and it captured the heart of one of my favourite superheroes of all time. I love Doctor Strange, but Spider-Man was probably one of the first superheroes I was ever introduced to, so to see it done right makes my day.
Bottom Line: There was one joke in the movie that made me laugh for a long time.
Stark: You screwed the pooch, but then you did the right thing and took the pooch to the clinic and raised the hybrid puppies … Admittedly not my best analogy.
The part about the hybrid puppies is still making me laugh.